When it comes to utilizing the world wide web to promote a community’s own attractions, events and programs, Leamington seems to be un’paralleled’.
A gathering of guests attended a launch of the municipality’s new-and-improved tourism website www.onthe42.com Tuesday, Jan. 17 at its main office on Erie Street North. Representatives of municipal council, the Leamington Mexican Consulate, Leamington and District Chamber of Commerce, Kingsville Folk Music Festival and Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island attended the event, where this year’s featured celebrity chef for the second annual Sip and Savour Experience — Lynn Crawford — was also officially announced.
Leamington culture and tourism developer Kyra Knapp emceed the event, where TWEPI CEO Gordon Orr and Leamington municipal CAO Peter Neufeld also addressed visitors. Knapp explained that the website’s initial release in June of 2016 was centered on a basic concept that has since been expanded and improved with an extensive list of features and information offered to Leamington’s visitors and residents alike.
“Back then it was a skeletal framework of what was to come,” she noted, adding that the upgraded version of the site was first presented to council on Monday, Jan. 9. “It’s a great way to help people plan trips to Leamington. It lets them know what to expect and where to find the attractions that make this community unique.”
The website focuses specifically on the amenities available within Leamington’s borders, with the option of local businesses and organizations to list and promote their services and events. Leamington-area restaurants, wineries, accommodation facilities and annual events have listed details on their services, with the ability to upload photos and videos as well as links, logos and other information. Knapp described the website as a promotional ‘pay to play’ model, although all basic listings are free for organizations and businesses to add.
“We’ve had excellent feedback,” Knapp said of the general public’s reaction to the new version of www.onthe42.com, a name inspired by Leamington’s placement on the 42nd parallel — the same distance from the equator as Rome, Italy and northern California. “People say it’s current, eye-catching and that it makes sense.”
“Its abilities show how we can highlight businesses, attractions, and events as part of our tourism strategy and as part of a larger economic development initiative,” stated Leamington mayor John Paterson, who was unable to attend the announcement on January 17. “Tourism is Leamington’s fourth largest sector and our focus on the tourism brand and events like the Sip and Savour Experience show our commitment to continued economic growth in Leamington.”
The second annual Sip and Savour Experience will feature celebrity chef Lynn Crawford as its feature guest. Crawford will make a one-hour public presentation on Saturday, Aug. 19 and will be one of the judges for the event’s new recipe contest. Crawford has made multiple appearances on televised programs including Iron Chef America, Top Chef Master Series’ fifth season, Restaurant Makeover, Top Chef Canada and as a judge on Chopped Canada.
“She’s a perfect fit for us,” Knapp said of Crawford. “She’s very community minded and she focuses heavily on where food is coming from. She’s happy to be coming here and we’re thrilled to have her.”
Sip and Savour has been expanded from two to three days for 2017, where Sunday will be offered as Kids’ Day and Friday will kick off with a fish fry. Musical entertainment will be planned and offered by the Kingsville Folk Music Festival, led by local musicians John and Michele Law. This year, the Leamington Farmers Market will be featured for all three days of the event. The Saturday Signature Experience will also make a return this year.
Preparation for this year’s Sip and Savour began in September of last year, with a large team of volunteers and assistance from several municipal departments. Organizers are hiring an event planner for this year’s itinerary. The request for proposal has already been released, with details available on both www.onthe42.com and the municipal website www.leamington.ca.